The Coalition of Feminist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition (CFSHRC) dissents with the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn and end federal abortion rights as represented in Roe v. Wade. This decision clearly challenges the human right to have autonomy over our bodies and our reproduction. It also critically and disproportionately impacts already marginalized communities, as the Guttmacher Institute notes, which includes “Black and Brown communities, other people of color, people with low incomes, young people, LGBTQ communities, immigrants and people with disabilities.” We know too this decision was made in the midst of threats—made and anticipated—to a wide range of human rights in the United States. It aggravates our concerns for justice in this country and will result in injurious material and intangible consequences for many people.
As the national context of anti-abortion laws continue to evolve and transform, we urge members—who need abortion care or who want to help—to engage local, expert organizations that are best equipped to support those who are directly impacted by this regressive decision. While, as a non-profit organization, we cannot endorse specific candidates or political officials, as feminist scholars and teachers, versed in the power dynamics of listening and speaking, we stand at the ready to support local activists, organizations, and health care professionals who are leading intersectional, anti-racist, trans* inclusive, community-based actions that are disability and trauma informed.
Moreover, the Coalition recognizes that the Supreme Court’s decision joins a much longer history of reproductive injustice that has been named, theorized, and actively resisted by reproductive justice thought leaders, quite a few of whom are Coalition members. Much of this activism has been led by multiply marginalized people whose concerns include and exceed the right to an abortion. No doubt this moment is painful after many years of diligent and ongoing efforts to create a more just world. Please know the CFSHRC recognizes, supports, and appreciates your powerful and necessary interventions.
This statement is not comprehensive or perfect; there is clearly more to say. While we knew this decision was likely coming, we recognize a range of emotions that we and others experience in response to this ruling. We hope that amid these responses, we find resolve to continue to act coalitionally and to use our knowledge and skills to speak up and out publicly and through our research and teaching. We list below a few resources that might offer insight, direction, and hope during this troubling time. As an organization of feminsit rhetoricians, we’ll continue to explore options to address this moment and map a path forward. We invite and welcome your ideas.
Adams, Heather Brook. “Goodbye, ‘Post-Pill Paradise’: Texturing Feminist Public Memories of Women’s Reproductive and Rhetorical Agency.” Quarterly Journal of Speech, 105 (4), 2019: 390-417.
DiCaglio, Sara and Lori Beth De Hertogh, eds. Special Issue: “Rhetorical Pasts, Rhetorical Futures: Reflecting on the Legacy of Our Bodies, Ourselves and the Future of Feminist Health Literacies.” Peitho, 21(3), 2019.
Murillo, Lina-Maria, and Natalie Fixmer-Oraiz. “Rulings Ensure Further Cruelty From Restricting Abortion Care.” DesMoines Register. 24 June 2022.
Roberts, Dorothy. “Reproductive Justice, Not Just Rights.” Dissent, 2015.
Yam, Shui-yin Sharon. “Beyond Choice: Why We Need Reproductive Justice.” Against the Current. 2022
Much appreciation goes to the CFSHRC Executive Board and to reproductive justice experts Shui-yin Sharon Yam and Heather Brook Adams for their guidance and labor in crafting this statement.